Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blue World Order


Today's coastal report (from Speelyei):

Woke up to an inch of thick, white hail covering all flat surfaces. It roared down for two hours last night, and this morning had sun breaks; but everything has been dripping like it's raining since I got up. Now it's snowing, thick, wet, big flakes, and the sky alternates from broken clouds to impending leaden doom.

Yesterday's post was a recollection of the drowning of Bruce Zumbuhl by an Anonymous's another account from a surfer who was there, John Brewer:

In Feb 1966--a week before I left for the Army--we were surfing The Cove in the morning. It was frigid but the shape wasn't bad. Maybe 4-6 feet. The skies were slate gray and the wind was whipping S.E.
At lunch we went to Bill Fackerell's. Came back at maybe 1or 2 and the surf had come up big time. The Cove was 8-10 and building; and that wave (Wally's Bathtub or whatever it’s called now) was beginning to show. There were (2) guys out "surfing" in front of The Lanai. We could tell immediately that they had no business being out. One guy had a polka-dotted board and the other had a pop-out from a rental shop. One of the surfers had a skimpy O'Neill Surf-John type suit and the other had just a thick, short-sleeved 1/4" jacket made by a shop in Portland. The water temp was probably no warmer than 50 degrees and the air was maybe mid 40’s.
The "Seaside Guys" were there (Mark Collins, Jerry Harrington, Dallas Cook, George Daggatt and I think the Hansen bros were there too). "Body Whomper" showed up, also (can't remember his name). Bill Brewer, myself, and Mike Nitsch were there. The crew as described was witnessing a spectacle. The rip was working, but every so often a set would break farther out and come pouring in along the rocks from halfway to The Point to The Lanai (where we were).
Nobody else went out. As you can imagine there was plenty of hooting and groaning every time a set came through. One guy finally got collected by a big pile of soup and somehow was able to hold on to his board and make it in to the sand beach at up at Seaside. The other guy lost his board. By this time the waves were giant—who knows how big—because I don’t think any of us had a clue as to how big the outside waves were breaking. Suffice it to say that they looked really big from the parking lot; and the outside waves had to have been what? A quarter to a half mile away?
Anyway the guy who lost his board kept trying to swim in against the rip. We’d been watching for maybe a half hour, and by this time the guy was maybe level with The Point and a few hundred yards NW. By now everybody on the beach knew the guy was in serious trouble—alone, chugging NW, out to the open ocean in the rip. “Body Whomper” was always the guy who would be out body surfing in anything. He was capable and brave. A couple of guys suggested that maybe he could go out and get the guy, but he said no way.
By now, the guy was out of sight from our vantage at The Lanai, so we all headed up to where Kopra’s place (before Kopra) was, so we could get a better view. Someone finally called the Coast Guard; but the chopper was down south somewhere worrking another incident.
We’re up on the cliff, maybe 100 feet? The guy was now so far north that we needed binoculars to see him—just a tiny black speck. He was taking these sets on the head. We could see the waves break, trailing white water hundreds of yards and with every wave it took longer for the speck to reappear. Finally he never showed again. The chopper arrived as the day was getting really late and dark—fifteen , twenty minutes after he finally disappeared. His body showed up a week later at the mouth of the Necanicum River.

John Brewer


Gaz said...

It's a brutally unforgiving world we sometimes lose sight of.

rj said...

Stories like that make me wince.